Skip to main content

Full text of "Outdoors"

See other formats

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Make] Projects 

hhiiilH ho/ 1 !/ tuMaal/ chare r\icf*f\\tat* 

build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Written By: Albert den Haan 



#2 phillips screwdriver (1) 

1/4" drill bit (1) 

5/64" drill bit (1) 

Center punch (1) 

Drill bit the same size as your dowel 
(optional) (1) 

Hacksaw (1) 

for cutting the tire off the wheel 

Power drill, drill press, or Dremel (1) 
Scroll saw (hand or electric) (1) 
Wood saw to cut the dowel twice (1) 
metal vise (1) 
shop knife to cut the tubing (1) 

3/4" hardwood dowel (3-4' long) (1) 

larger diameter dowel will work too; it 
wifl be heavier 

5/16" x 4" bolt (1) 

if a larger dowel is used, pick a longer 
bolt to match 

eye bolt with wood screw thread 1/8" by 
3/4" by 2" (3) 

1/8" Sintra (or lite-ply) (8"x11") 

1" Foam rubber (1) 

enough to make adaptor disks to fit 

inside the halo line r'eel(s) 
Halo winder (1) 

6" plastic lawn mower wheel (1) 

Pick a wheel with a solid plastic hub: no 
separate bearing. 

1/" I.D. shimming washers (1) 

5/16" x 1/5/16 Hitch pin (1) 

5/16" wing nut (1) 

5/16" hexagonal nut (1) 

5/15" I.D. x 1 1/2" P.P. Fender Washer 


5/16" metal washer (2) 

10' length of 9/16" (outside diameter) x 

5/16" (inside diameter) flexible vinyl 
tubing (1) 

Shoelace or bootlace, at least 18" long 


Drawfir null 19\ 

© Make Projects 

Pagel of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

These form the crank handles 

A halo winder of kite string. (1) 

At least 4" in diameter is recommended . 
The important part is that the wheel rim 
is smaller than the smallest winding 
diameter. Be sure to secure the inside 
end of the line to the halo! 

5/16" drill bit 3/4" cotter pin (1) 


This hand-cranked capstan pulls down kites easily and quickly but is lightweight and small 
enough to be portable. A power option can be added for even more ease of use. 

The line ends up on a removable halo spool, so spools of line with varying weights can be 
used on the same winder. The winder is built from standard hardware-store parts with 
common tools in a few hours. Because the line storage is not limited by the size of the 
winder, the mechanical advantage of a small capstan can be used to pull in a lot of line. 

The conventional method of winding the line directly on a lightweight spool under high stress 
risks collapsing the destination reel due to the elastic band effect. The design shown here 
limits the tension on the takeup reel to the minimal amount needed to make sure the line will 
all get on the reel. 

The robustness, strength, and small size of the reel/winch comes from the hub of a small 
lawnmower wheel as a capstan with a long 5/16" steel axle bolt mounted on a hefty wooden 
dowel. The widely available, lightweight halo reel is supported with soft, lightweight open-cell 

The dowel is fitted for one hand to hold braced against the cranker's waist while the other 
hand uses either the high power or high speed knobs on the crank handle. 

The materials are chosen for easy construction in a decently equipped home workshop. The 
trickiest operation is cross-drilling the axle twice for a cotter pin and a hitch pin. 

Some care is needed for threading the kite line on the winch — especially with a kite that is 
pulling strongly (use gloves) — but it is a straightforward operation once learned. Then 
launching and flying the kite to altitude is easily done with just the halo, and the winding 
down is done with the winch. 

© Make Projects 

Page 2 of 1 5 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 1 — Parts needed 

• See above for the detailed list. 

© Make Projects 

Page 3 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 2 — Cut The wooden frame 

• Cut the dowel into 3 pieces with the longest 3" longer than half your arm length and the two 
shortest about 8" long. The long piece is the spine of the winder, the short ones are the 
cross pieces. 

• If you have a drill bit large enough, drill across the ends of the dowel to form mouths large 
enough to hold the short pieces neatly and rigidly at right angles to the long spine dowel. 
Try to orient the mouths so that the cross dowels are parallel with respect to each other. 

• If you don't have such a large drill, cut the ends of the dowel into an open fishmouth shape 
of about 60 degrees at the base with your saw(s) and carve the end dowels to match. 

• The fancy shapes at the ends of the spine are intended to hold the cross pieces 
from twisting and pulling the string out of alignment into a tangle. 

© Make Projects 

Page 4 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 3 

• Saw the tire off the lawnmower wheel. 

• Press fit the hose into the axle hole. Watch for a taper and start from the wider end if there 
is one! 

• Cross drill the hub of the wheel with the hose inside for the cotter pin. Drill from the outside 
of the flanges clear through the other side of the central bushing. This may take careful 
chucking in your drill since the bits are usually just long enough. 

• If you do not have a drill of the right size try making one of your own. Clip a thick 
straightened wire to an angled point and use that. Coat hanger wire will work for soft 
plastic and wood. 

© Make Projects 

Page 5 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 4 — Construct the Crank 

• Cut the crank handle to 10". It should span the wheel hub and extend 3" extra on one side 
for the high-power knob. 

• Drill holes for the high- and low-power knobs 3/8" from each end of the crank handle 
centered in its width. Drill a 5/16" hole for the axle bolt so the handle spans the hub; 
crossing both edges eliminates places where the string can catch. 

• Assemble the knobs onto the crank arm. Make sure they spin freely and use washers 
either side of the aluminium arm to control wear and friction. 

• The holes marked with red squares in the first image are for the knobs. The red 
circle marks the axle hole. The blue square in the last hole marks the hole for the 
locking bolt added later. 


© Make Projects 

Page 6 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 5 — Prepare the hub and axle 

• Ream out the hose bushing in the wheel hub to allow the 5/16" bolt to push through. This 
should be a snug fit but disassemble-able. Try using a 5/16" or slightly larger bit, make 
sure it is square to the wheel, make several passes to widen out the hole as much as 
possible in small increments. 

• Press the axle bolt through the crank handle and the wheel hub. Mark the bolt for the cotter 
pin hole. Disassemble and center-punch the mark to guide the drill in the next step. 

• Cross drill the bolt at the marked point with a bit big enough to hold one hitch pin. Be sure 

• use oil or wax to lubricate the drill bit; 

• hold the bolt in a vise or in vee blocks to keep it safely steady; 

• drill straight through the bolt starting at the punched dimple. Check and re-check 

your setup prior to drilling! 



© Make Projects 

Page 7 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 6 

• Drill through the crank and the hub close to the inside of the rim for the bolts to carry the 
cranking torque to the wheel hub. Use any web structures available to help carry the 
twisting forces. 

• Use a nylock nut or a lock washers and a nut on to solidly fix the crank to the hub. 

• Install the cotter pin to lock the capstan wheel to the axle. 

© Make Projects 

Page 8 of 1 5 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 7 — Axle hole in spine 

• Use your assembled crank and axle to pick the spot for the 5/16" axle hole on the spine. It 
must be closer to one end but far enough to leave the crank and your hand clear of the 
crosspiece and its hardware. 

• (Sharp eyes may notice I have left off the locking bolt from the capstan to the crank in 
the first picture.) 

• Cross drill a 5/16" hole for the axle bolt in the same plane as the top cross piece. Slightly 
out of line is O.K. but noticeable. 

• Check the fit of the axle bolt in this hole. It should turn smoothly and easily without 
wobbling. Ream the hole out if needed by re-drilling it until the axle fits well. 

• Lubricate the hole with some powdered graphite. Be sure to cover one end before puffing 
the graphite or you will have black graphite everywhere! 

© Make Projects 

Page 9 of 1 5 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 8 

• Find the place to drill for the hitch 
pin by assembling most of the axle 

• First put the handle and then the 
hub on the axle (they will be 
loose for now), 

• shove the capstan locking hitch 
pin through the bolt, 

• add a washer and a shim washer 
on top, 

• push the bolt through the hole in 
the spine dowel 

• and add another pair of thick 

• Mark the place to drill for the hitch 
pin that will hold the axle on the 
spine. Leave a bit of room between 
where the hole will go and the 
second washer to account for the 
thickness of the pin. Take all the 
stuff off the bolt and cross drill it as 
for the first hitch pin. 

© Make Projects 

Page 10 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 9 — Discs for the Reel Mount and Slipper Clutch 

• Cut a Sintra disk at least 2 1/4" across and make the center hole 5/16" to fit loosely over 
the axle bolt. Hole saws work well for this since they drill a (small) centre hole for you. 

• Cut a Sintra disc just larger than the inside of your largest reel with a centre hole for the 
axle. Trace your reel onto the plastic sheet and free hand cut outside that line. Mark the 
centre and drill the axle hole. Absolute circularity and concentricity is nice but not 

• Smooth the edges of the discs so the kite line will not catch. 

• Cut foam discs to hold your reels from the inside. They must be a snug interl fit and the 
5/16" hole should be close to the centre of the mounted reel. Punching the holes with 5/16" 
tubing or rod against a hard surface works well. 

© Make Projects 

Page 11 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 10 

• Add the rubber washer outside the second hitch pin. 

• Add the larger Sintra disk outside the washer 

• Pop the A foam disk onto the axle, add the smaller thin disk, a washer and a hexagonal 

• Tighten the hex nut enough that the foam and discs rotate with the axle when cranking but 
the inside disc can be stopped with the pressure of a bare thumb. 

• Twist on the wing nut until it solidly touches the hexagonal nut. The nuts will jam together 
to resist the tendency for the slipping reel clutch to loosen or tighten itself. 

© Make Projects 

Page 12 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 11 

• Twist the loops of the eye screw out of line so that a kite line can easily be slipped in 
diagonally but will not wander out if pulled at right angles to the loop. 1/16" is enough for 
most kite line up to 150 pound test. 

• Drill a hole for the eye screw in the flat end of the dowel that will be the top crosspiece. 
Screw the loop in until it can barely be adjusted for alignment. 

• Pre-drill and screw the lower dowel crosspiece onto the spine. This is a belly brace to help 
with holding the winch with one hand while the other cranks. This should be glued later 
after any fit adjustments. 

• Pre-drill and screw the upper crosspiece so that the inside hole of the loop on the end is 
aligned with the outermost part of the flat spot on the wheel hub. Align the loop so that the 
twisted-out part is away from the wheel hub. 

• Drill a hole for a second screw eye aligned with the innermost flat spot of the wheel hub. 
This fairlead should protrude upwards from the crosspiece 

• The third screw eye will be aligned with the centerline of the halo reel, so fit it on the foam 
insert and drill the mounting hole. 

• Twist in screw eyes with the loop oriented along the crosspiece. Alignments with the reel 
and hub can be adjusted by twisting as needed. 

© Make Projects 

Page 13 of 15 

Capstan for Winding Kite Line 

Step 12 — Threading the line on the winder 

• Threading this machine is less complicated than threading a sewing machine, but it is as 
important to get it right. 

• The line is threaded in from the bottom of the halo reel to the kite as follows: 

• It feeds up from the bottom of the reel 

• to the reel-side fair lead 

• to the capstan takeoff fair lead 

• around the capstan 4 times in the same direction as the takeoff reel 

• then through the capstan fair lead to the kite. 

Step 13 

• Using the thing. 

• I have some demonstration video online of a previous generation unit. 

• Video introduction showing threading, winding, and unwinding. 

• Assembly video with a 3 year old 'assisting' 

© Make Projects 

Page 14 of 15 

Putting the winder to use 

Step 14 

• Tweaks and improvements 

• The position and angles of the fairleads is tweakable within a large range. 

• If the line falls out of a fairlead, stop winding! Correct the situation or you will have some 
wonder-full snarls that can rip line apart. 

• The crank arm lengths are tweakable. I chose lengths that will work with my 54" delta up to 
Beaufort 4 (30 km/h). The long arm is really important for that. 

• The spine length is probably the biggest affecter of comfort. Experience will show what 
lengths work best for you. 

• Some way to anchor the line while threading this monster seems needed. If there was a 
waist belt and a cleat on the top cross piece, threading under load would be a lot easier. 

• If inner portion of the capstan had a diameter larger than the take up reel on in line with the 
take off fairlead, then the reel breaking would be unnecessary when unwinding. 

• A locking loop to hold the crank from turning would allow hands free flying. 

Putting the winder to use 

Compared to a simple halo this winder is complex, and that may not be appropriate for a simple 
flying session. But, if you have to move a lot of line quickly under high tension, this unit will save 
a lot of effort and pain, especially if you can use the drill power option. 

This document was last generated on 201 3-01 -07 04:1 3:58 PM. 

© Make Projects Page 1 5 of 1 5